Flood hit businesses urged to apply

Rivers Minister Michelle O'Neill is pictured with Clady business owner Ciaran McGlinchey following a meeting with residents and business owners in the Co.Tyrone village to discuss the impact of recent flooding. Photo Diarmuid McLaughlin
Rivers Minister Michelle O'Neill is pictured with Clady business owner Ciaran McGlinchey following a meeting with residents and business owners in the Co.Tyrone village to discuss the impact of recent flooding. Photo Diarmuid McLaughlin

Owners of flood-hit properties have been advised to apply for non-domestic Emergency Financial Assistance.

The Executive approved an Emergency Financial Assistance Scheme on 10 March 2016.

This was in response to the flooding experienced following the heavy rainfall between 12 November and 30 December 2015.

A spokesman for DARD said: “The Emergency Financial Assistance Scheme will provide flood assistance of £1,000 to non domestic properties and small businesses, including farm businesses. It will also include recreational and community buildings and places of worship. It is a one off extension to the existing DOE scheme operated by local councils and will be jointly-funded by DARD and DOE. DARD will also provide a technical assessment of eligibility in relation to farm businesses if required.

“It will be open for applications from 4 to 30 April. Further guidance and application forms will be available on the council websites from 4 April.

“The scheme has a range of criteria as set out below:

- The claim is eligible where a loss incurred was not insurable;

- Only small businesses can apply (employing less than 25 people);

- Farm businesses will include farmyards and land farmed by the business;

- Farmland must have been underwater for at least 14 days and incurred additional cost due to reduced productivity or unplanned sward restoration/reseeding work;

- Businesses must have been unable to operate due to constrained access for at least 14 days; and

- Businesses must be able to demonstrate a remedial cost to the business of at least £1,000.

“Only farmers whose land farmed has been significantly affected as a result of sustained high levels in Lough Neagh and Lough Erne will be considered. It is planned to define and publish a list of eligible areas ahead of scheme opening.

“Anyone responsible for a non-domestic property impacted by the recent flooding is encouraged to contact your local council or NI Direct (0845 3044508) for more details.”

Meanwhile, Alan Strong, the current chair of the Drainage Council, has been appointed to lead a review into the winter flooding.

Speaking on a visit to Clady, requested by Grace McDermott, to view how the village had been impacted by the significant flooding last winter, the Minister said: “I am pleased that Alan has accepted my invitation to chair this review. It is important that he is independent from those involved with the management of this flood event and I am confident he will carefully examine current procedures and practices, test how robust, effective and fit for purpose they are, and make recommendations where necessary.”